I was talking with Brian the other night about a survey that his alma mater (Tyler School of Art) had sent out a while back that asked questions to former graduates stuff like “Do you primarily work in your field of study?” “Do you work part time in your field of study?” “Do you regularly create art?” etc.
He went on to explain that there was a statistics chart sent in from respondents who took the survey showing the percentages of graduates who were actually working in their field. It was something like only 30% of people doing something that related to what they went to art school for. And there were a whole bunch of people that were not doing anything remotely related to their area of study, which is sad.
I don’t remember all of the details because it was a quick 2 minute conversation, but It did stick in my head. Illustration is not an easy field to make a living in. It’s very competitive and you really have be dedicated and disciplined in the never ending cycle of creating client work, creating promotional work, marketing, client management and getting more client work all while taking care of life stuff at the same time. It’s not a 9 to 5 job with a steady paycheck and security.
Sometimes I can be very hard on myself because I feel like I should be doing more, doing better, making 100% of my income from illustration, etc. I have to remember not to compare myself to others in the field who might seem more successful or lucky or whatever. Everyone has a different set of circumstances. I have to remember – don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t go down that road! Yes, I do have a part time job 3 days a week to supplement my income when there is a slow freelance period. I wish that I didn’t have to, but I do. Freelance ebbs and flows and I would LOVEto be able to make all of my income with illustration but as I mentioned before, it is a competitive line of work. That is a goal that I’ll keep working hard toward.
But hey, that quickie conversation made me think. Even if I am sometimes hard on myself I can’t deny that I have come a long way. There are plenty of people that I graduated U of A with who are not doing anything remotely related to their area of study. Right now I am probably make about 70% of my income from illustration. Some of it may not be glamorous, published illustration – it could be production work or presentation work for clients that never actually sees the light of day. But it’s work. I’m doing what I went to school for. And I’m making money from it. I am getting paid to draw stuff. I am a working illustrator. And I am SUPER GRATEFUL for that. Onward and upward!